Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Chapter 10: The shade garden pt 3

But I am spent; my throat, ragged, my eyes raw from the tears. I feel so empty now. I was accustomed to holding on to that pain, to being filled with it. But now there is nothing and the barrenness aches. I feel surrounded by the sharp aching emptiness, desolate and alone.

His voice breaks through that desolation. “Come now, reconnect with Me.” He reminds.

My instinct is to draw into myself, to hide. I want to hide! Facing Him with this emptiness inside frightens me. I want to pull away, to conceal my lack from Him lest He find me unacceptable.

Even so, He takes me into His arms and holds me. “Do not pull away from me now, little one. I have not turned from you even here.”

His arms are comforting, but still I feel cold within. “I feel so empty, Papa.” I whisper, my voice barely there.

“I know, I know. ” He murmurs as He reminds me of Psalm 18.

PS 18:1 I love you, O LORD, my strength.2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.

PS 18:6 In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.

PS 18:16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. 19 He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.
20 The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.21 For I have kept the ways of the LORD; I have not done evil by turning from my God. 22 All his laws are before me; I have not turned away from his decrees.23 I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin.
24 The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless,26 to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.

“See what I mean by love, what I do for those in whom I delight. I am lavish in my response, I hold nothing back from them—those whose hands are blameless, who have not turned from Me.

“Show me your hands.”

I cannot resist His direction, but a new fear stabs at me. I have always feared this verse. I extend my hands to him. “They are empty, Papa, they are empty.” Despair wells within me as I contemplate the emptiness of my hands. I have nothing to present Him, nothing to place before Him.

“Yes.” He replies with a steady voice. “They hold no sin.” He turns them palms down. “There is no stain upon them, they were washed in the water before we arrived here. Your hands are blameless.”

I snap to attention hearing these words. This was not what I was expecting to hear! My sin! My idolatry, what of that? I know my hands must be stained! How can He say they are blameless? I know I repented, asked His forgiveness, but…

He does not acknowledge my thoughts, but continues in what He was saying. “Your hands are blameless. I will deal with them accordingly.”

I cannot help but fear these words. Those verses have always unsettled me. I know what is due me and I do not think I want that.

“I love with the love of a king, lavishly, in word and in deed. I will show you in ways that you understand the love I have for you.

“Your victories are not on the battle field for you are not a warrior but a healer. But your victories are nonetheless real. Your victories can be counted in generations.

“You feel empty now, because there is nothing there right now. I will fill you to overflowing though. Watch and see what the love of a king is like.”

I do not know how to respond. Overwhelmed by His grace, I am silent, until finally I find words. “Be it unto me according to thy word. Be it unto me.”

“Your heart is there, buy your eyes are unsure.” He says, kissing the top of my head. “You are hurting and tired, your strength has faded and it is difficult for you to receive what I have said to you. Let Me take you back to rest a while.”

He sees me so clearly and knows my heart. I nod in exhausted silence.

“Let us walk through the garden on the way.” He wraps my arm in His, leading me. I feel almost limp, letting Him direct my steps.

We walk to the back side of the garden. I do not think we have been here before. The shade here is deep. Somehow it fits my mood. Why can I not rejoice in the love of my king? I wonder to myself as we walk through the quiet shade. The trees are thick and lush here, with almost no sunlight penetrating the canopy.

“Come, look here.” His voice penetrates my thoughts and I turn my focus back to Him. He points to what is growing beneath the trees.

It is an effort to focus my eyes on what He directs, but as I do, I am surprised. Beneath the trees, in billowing volumes are bright hostas, caladiums, elephant ears, impatients and periwinkles. The garden here is as full of life as what is in the full sun. Even where it seems the most dark right now, there is fullness of life springing forth.

“Sit here with Me a while and see this place.” We sit beneath a large oak tree amidst the blooming shade garden.

If anything, it seems this place is more full, more lush than the rest of the garden with its roses and vines. “Why here?” I ask, baffled at what I am seeing.

“Because the soil is so good.” His answer is simple, but it does not make sense to me.

“Why? What do you mean?” I just cannot grasp what He is talking about.

“This is a hidden place, Few weeds have grown up here. As you have tended the garden you have sown a crop here, even unaware of it. The first fruits are always sweet when the soil is fresh and new, when the right crops have been planted. See what is planted here is what is made to grow in this kind of place. It is different than what grows in the sun. But it is striking none the less, even more so for its uniqueness. This is a place of restoration, you will bring many here. They will drink deeply of the peace and safety they find in you and their hearts will be restored.”

I try to take all this in. “Be it unto me according to thy word.” Is the only thing I can find to say.

He kisses me gently, “For faith” He says softly.

The gentle hum of the life here lulls me. I want so much to sleep.

“Go ahead.” He puts His arm around me. “I will be here.”

I nestle into the crook of His arm, finding rest and please in this place and in Him.

Chapter 11-->

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